Tweet, Tweet, Tweet: Will Someone Please Shoot That Effing Bird?

If you’re a regular user of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, does the following look familiar?

lying in pool of own vomit w/ @parishilton @britneyspears

cottaging in 4 seasons toilets w/ @georgemichael

caught massive dose of clap off @skankypantz

disembowelled outside palo alto starbux by @mansonlvr

I’m sorry, but I can’t take it anymore. No, I’m not talking about the man who done me wrong. I’m talking about this endless twittering, tweeting, and retweeting… So what was wrong with two cans and a string to communicate our news? Andy Warhol must be turning in his Campbell’s Soup can. I doubt even he could have imagined this kind of fifteen minutes of fame.

Hey, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for social networking, I think it’s great and it serves a useful purpose! I admit that I’m totally addicted to it. Just call me a social networking crackhead – if I’m near a computer I’ll be online, even if I’m at someone’s house. I’ve even done it at parties! I’ve stuck myself up on a ton of sites, and now I can update them all via a simple one-stop shop at Ping.fm. However, a lot of this social networking has gotten out of hand. Fine, keep people up to date, but don’t make us want to run out and buy and gun and go postal with it. There’s a huge difference between being informative and being excessive. And baby, the line has been crossed.

Perhaps I didn’t notice it that much before, or at least not until Facebook decided to sneak into Twitter’s back garden and grab their knickers from off the clothesline. Hello Mark? Does your “new” newsfeed not look just a wee bit familiar? Where’s that innovative Silicon Valley spirit? Or did it go careening off a cliff on a mountain bike? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Frankly, I’m not buying it.

I admit that I try to exercise a reasonable amount of restraint when it comes to my own status updates. But how few are too few and how many are too many? That is the question, Hamlet, and it’s a bloody hard one to answer. Of course I want people to see my name, get involved in what I’m doing, follow my little exploits, be they mundane or exciting. Yet I’m also very aware of how I myself react when I see the same people continually posting, and I mean posting like a machine gun – rat-tat-tat-tat-tat – one after the other, like those butch Italian cowboys being shot down in a Spaghetti Western when you know there can’t possibly be any more bullets left in the gun. I mean, it’s not like these folk actually need to keep updating and updating. Often you’ll find the updates are nearly identical. They remind me of a student I taught in a university creative writing module who stubbornly refused to engage with the process of redrafting and thought she could get away with changing a couple of words here and there.

As for this ad nauseum updating business, I know several users who have deleted other users from their Twitter and Facebook accounts – and I’m talking very high-profile users (many even of celebrity status) whose updates were getting to the point of either being analogous to spamming or making everyone ill. Do they not realise how annoying this is? If you’re losing followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook, then maybe it’s time to acknowledge that your social networking methodology might be backfiring. Granted, you don’t have to be high-profile to spiral into overkill.

Can you imagine if we had Count Dracula constantly updating his status? (It would likely be at night, unless he was inside his coffin during the day sending tweets from his mobile phone.) It would probably go something like this:

chowing down flies w/ @renfield

taking a bloodbath w/ @dracsbride

hiking in carpathians w/ @jharker

debating wooden stakes v silver bullets w/ @vanhelsing

I’ve now reached the point where I’ll comment on people’s updates just to wind them up. In fact, I recently engaged in a bit of a Facebook fracas with a gentleman who was attending a convention (I won’t say which convention, though you might be able to guess). He kept updating his status every few seconds – yes, I am serious: SECONDS, so I thought I’d tease him about it, interjecting little jests under his various updates, hoping he might come to realise just how ridiculous this was getting. Alas, the point of my repartee was completely lost on the fellow, and finally I could take no more. I said, “hey, if you want to see some updates that are actually entertaining, take a look at my page.” And do you know what he replied? “Oh, I don’t really have time to look at other people’s updates.” Umm… excuse me? Needless to say, I clicked that little X alongside his updates, opting for one less nuisance in my busy social networking life. Hey, if I have to read your updates, it’s only fair you read mine, right?

Now before you hardcore updaters drag me off to the stake to be burned, realise that all I’m saying is this: before you update your status for the gazillionth time, ask yourself the following:

1. Do I really need to update when I just updated a minute ago?

2. Is it absolutely necessary when I’ve pretty much said the exact same shit in my previous update?

3. Will anyone be remotely pleased to see my update or will they pray that lightning strikes me dead?

I think you know the answer.

(By the way, it’s @mitziszereto in case you want to follow me on Twitter! xxx)

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16 Responses to “Tweet, Tweet, Tweet: Will Someone Please Shoot That Effing Bird?”

  1. Susan Kelley Says:

    Now you’ve made me completely paranoid. How can I ever post again without worrying hundreds of people will know I’m the most boring person ever to expose my mundane life to the world? Personally, I try to only friend and follow people with similar interests as me. So when one of them moans about doing more edits or revisions or the dread of rejection, I can sympathize and know others share my career challenges and victories. Still, I don’t need to know when they’re going to their third cousin’s dance recital. Mostly I find some great links to interesting blogs and promotional opportunities. Thanks for the entertainment I found following your link on fbook.

  2. Pau Brazill Says:

    how far is too far? how much is too much? story of my life …

  3. Greg Goode Says:

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more. My updates are entirely pointless, which is why I always make sure they rhyme.

  4. Tom Foremski Says:

    I agree. Those hyper-social people end up crowding others off the page. I try to do less and share something useful or funny. But, we are still at the early stages of these types of things and eventually we’ll have some typse of social manners develop around such things. But in the meantime, it can be damn annoying. There is a cure… log off!

  5. Jude Mason Says:

    Mitzi,

    You’ve just said what I’ve been thinking for the last few months. I don’t care when someone takes out their laundry, picks up their children, washes their car/hair/dog/pig or goes to the store for milk. I mean for crying out loud!

    Sigh. I’ve gotten so I don’t update nearly as much as I should because I don’t want to see the messages lurking. Networking is one thing, having no life is another. I shall now be plagued with people who disagree with me, I know it and I’m cringing.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Hugs

  6. mitzi Says:

    well i’ve clearly hit a nerve – i just got a message on facebook from someone saying: “ok i’m gone.” and he unfriended me. LOL!

  7. susie hawes Says:

    Can I tweet this?

    Aw, come on. You had to see that one coming.

  8. Rowena Cherry Says:

    I think I’m getting rhyming spam in my inbox. I trust that Greg doesn’t have a secret life massaging meat for commercial profit.

    Seriously, Mitzi, I’ve been a bit concerned about the auto functions allowing one to re-tweet. I find it far more entertaining to respond to my friends’ tweets.

  9. mitzi Says:

    tweet away, susan! 😉

  10. Carl Lowe Says:

    I’m looking forward (not) to the day when a chip will be just implanted in every brain and everybody will instantly accessible to everybody. Now that will be a tweet.

  11. Phoenix Rising Says:

    Great post. I’m new to Facebook and Twitter, so I have just begun my journey into the social networking jungle. I’m glad to see other people feel it is a bit too much! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who felt overwhelmed by it all. I usually only tweet a few times a day. Really, my life is not that interesting. I do like Facebook; but, at times, I find it frenetic. I have a MySpace page, too. At times, I find it hard to keep up with everything and everyone. So . . . I pencil Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace into my calendar under admin. If I didn’t, I’d never get any writing done.

  12. Deanna Says:

    Mitzi, love this post.

    Its gotten to the point where I wake up in the morning and the number of new tweets is upwards of 400. Who has time to check through every single tweet? I think in the last few days I’ve updated Twitter about once a day, maybe even once every two days, when I remember or feel there’s something to say. Its all starting to get a bit blah blah blah. I still update facebook about once a day though. Haven’t gotten to the point when I’m linking the two.

    Your question is spot on – how often is too often and when is it not often enough? I do wonder about that.

  13. lesley Says:

    yikes, agreed…agreed…and AGREED. for crying out loud, i can’t even watch news anymore without being reminded every three seconds that every tv personality on CNN/FOX/etc are NOW on twitter and are tweeting accordingly so “i should make sure i’m following the updates” (cue the hypnotist’s spinning wheel). this needed to be spoken about. truly. i don’t feel i’m the only one going mad anymore.

    *hugs*

  14. Kate Johnson Says:

    You know what, I feel like my mother when confronted with a text message. What does it all mean? Where does all the punctuation come from? Is it a foreign language?

    If you really feel the need to share your everyday moments with the world at large, may I suggest conducting your life outside your front door: that way, the whole world can see you on Google Street View!

  15. Sinead Says:

    Oh I hope i wasn’t that university student you speak of?… I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to my writing. On the subject of pathetic updates, my flatmate has started a page on facebook which is anti-pity-party updates.. you know the type of people who post things like ‘OH IM SO SICK..’ and then when noone replied they post 5 minutes later ‘OH I MUST BE DYING..’ noone still reacts, so they resort to ‘NOONE LOVES ME..’ eventually they get a few people commenting things like ‘Are you ok?’ .. ‘Oh i love you darlin..’ and ‘dont worry’. They are basically attention seekers, don’t give them your pity. Also, i deleted some people on twitter for constantly updating.. it was so annoying because i couldn’t read anyone elses updates because theirs just took over and spammed the whole page. Major bummer. I like your updates though Mitzi. They are funny 🙂

  16. mitzi Says:

    no it most definitely wasn’t you! you were a treasure!
    and i know what you mean – sure i can get a bit maudlin with my updates (albeit with sledgehammer wit), but some of the stuff i see beggars belief. x

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